Melting Dashboards Turn into Shiny Goo

One of the automotive world's worst science projects is coming to an end. Toyota dashboards have long been known to melt under the heat of the sun. The melted dashes warp and extrude a strange, goo-like substance that is oddly shiny and sticky; like something you'd find in a toddler's coat pocket.

Melting Dashboards

Dashboards in Toyota vehicles dating back to 2003 are melting under the heat of the sun. The melted plastic cracks, warps, and oozes a strange, gooey substance that is oddly shiny and sticky; like something you’d find in a toddler’s coat pocket.

The problem is at its worst in areas of high heat and humidity, but reports of melting dashboards have come from all over.

The issue isn’t just cosmetic. The sticky surface reflects a strong glare that can temporarily blind drivers and create dangerous driving situations, and owners have voiced concern that melted areas, particularly around the airbags, can prevent a deployment in a crash.

Warped and highly reflective dash

Dashboard Technical Service Bulletins (TSB)

The first indication Toyota was aware of the problem came in December of 2011 when Lexus (the luxury branch of Toyota) released TSB L-SB-0144-11 titled Interior Panels Sticky / Poor Performance.

Some 2006 – 2008 model year IS 250/350 vehicles may exhibit sticky interior panels that have a shiny/degraded appearance. This condition may be present on the Instrument Panel Pad and/or the Door Panel Trim. Revised interior panels have been developed to address this condition.

Repairs for the problem were to be covered under the Lexus Comprehensive Warranty which lasted 48 months or 50,000 miles.

Multiple Lawsuits Lead to Extended Dashboard Warranty

Lexus’ TSB was used as evidence in an August 2014 lawsuit thataccused Toyota of designing, manufacturing, and ignoring the dangerous Velveeta-like dashboards in the 2006-2008 Lexus ES, IS, and the 2007-2009 Toyota Camry.

A similar lawsuit was filed in November 2014.

Toyota opens up extended dashboard warranty and reimbursement program

The lawsuits hit their mark when Toyota announced they would extend the dashboard warranty coverage in 3.5 million vehicles. You might say Toyota wanted to avoid a sticky situation. Or that they felt the heat of pending litigation. OK, I’ll stop now.

The following vehicles are covered by customer support program ZE6:

Make Model Years
Lexus ES 350 2007–2008
  GX 470 2003 –2008
  IS 250 2006–2008
  IS 350 2006–2008
  LS 460 2007
  RX 330 2004–2006
  RX 350 2007–2009
  RX 400h 2005–2008
Toyota 4Runner 2003–2005
  Avalon 2005–2010
  Camry 2007–2011
  Camry Hybrid 2007–2011
  Sienna 2004–2010
  Solara 2004–2008

Split into phases

Toyota first wanted to focus on covering the costs of owners who have already paid for dashboard repairs out-of-pocket.

Once those reimbursements had been made, Toyota planned on offering replacing dashboards that hadn’t been previously repaired.

As always, conditions applied:

  • Toyota’s primary coverage extended the warranty for any owner of one of the listed vehicles, regardless of mileage or when the vehicle was first used. The primary coverage ended on May 31, 2017.
  • Secondary coverage also extended the dashboard warranty in the listed vehicles without mileage limits, but only up to 10 years from the date the vehicle was first used.

Problems with Toyota’s Extended Dashboard Warranty

It’s been over three years since Toyota announced they’d replace melted dashboards, and owners are still on the waiting list with no end in sight.

Because Toyota offered a voluntary warranty extension, the repairs and procedures are not subject to federal oversight from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Toyota sued for breach of warranty

In September of 2016 a South Carolina lawsuit implied Toyota was breaching its warranty agreement by making owners wait for years to receive a dashboard replacement.

According to the lawsuit, when Toyota first announced the warranty program the automaker notified customers and said it could take months to gather the replacement parts. However, Toyota then sent a second notice that removed the information about a timeline for repairs.

Months have turned to years. Will years turn to decades?

[The plaintiff] says after waiting more than a year for the dashboard to be fixed, her dealership told her there were about 800 customers on the same waiting list and the dealer had received only about 25 replacement dashboards during the past six months.

At that rate, the lawsuit argues, Toyota won’t be able to repair all the affected vehicles within the secondary coverage’s 10-year limit.

Toyota’s snail-like pace isn’t good enough and owners regret dropping previous lawsuits after hearing about the “customer support program.”

“Toyota has failed to meet its obligations under the Program, thereby breaching its promise to owners of Subject Vehicles. In fact, Toyota has been unable to provide consumers with any realistic timeline for effectuating repairs for the Program set to end in May 2017. As a result, Toyota has breached its warranties under its Original Warranty and under its Program, leaving millions of consumers that own Subject Vehicles without an adequate remedy.” - Toyota/Lexus melting dashboard lawsuit

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